As in other Kvarner towns, Bakar’s gastronomy is a combination of seafood and agriculture in its hinterland. This area is influenced by heavy northeast wind bura and rainy days in winter, while having a sub-Mediterranean climate in rest of the year.
It is the specialties that Bakar is famous for. Everyone here is proud of Bakarska vodica, a sparkling wine grown on the terraces high above the Bakar Bay, or Bakarski baškot, unique baked bread used to gain strength on long voyages of famous Bakar captains and sailors. Fresh fish and sea products are still very much everyday meals here. On the very waterfront stands town’s most famous fishery and a small fish restaurant Vladimir. Beautiful setting of this place is accompanied by also beautiful and fresh food.
Everything is simple – the menu consists of healthy blue fish, squids, high quality fish, octopus salad, everything with classic potato or beans salad, or Swiss chard. Of course, the daily menu depends on the successful fishing night. The owner has its own boat and here you enjoy true gastronomy chain – from fishermen to your table! For us, the owner Marijan Čoklo made a beautiful plate of seafood, with distinctive freshness of fish, squids, with Swiss chard and potatoes on the side. Simple, fresh, juicy, this is a branch everyone should wish for!
Vladimir Primorje bb, Bakar 00385 98 9519 962
And while many influences in Bakar’s town cuisine came through the ships, Bakar’s surroundings preserved old-fashioned peasant dishes. Such a famous place is the Restaurant Bujan in the village of Praputnjak. This old village inherited the viticulture and agriculture from past times, and Bujan is an old inn, with respected past. On this very spot, called Meja, as this was the toll border between Praputnjak and neighbouring Hreljin, the family had their inn since 1932. Bujan is famous for homemade meals and big portions, and every guest will be offered with homemade rakija (brandy).
We came to Bujan without prior notice and were surprised with excellent plate of prosciutto and cheese, together with a superb olive oil. This classic Adriatic appetizer is determined by the quality of every ingredient, including the olives, and Bujan is known to offer excellent hard cheese. Among other appetizers guests like to point to the Grobnik cheese with hot potatoes and olive oil.
Place is also known for its soups, minestrone and stews, especially in winter period. We also enjoyed excellent minestrone soup with chunks of meat, bean, and corn. Rich soups are classic meals in the Northern Adriatic, pointing to the various Mediterranean and Central European influences. But it is the meat Bujan has always been famous for. Known delicacies such lamb and veal baked under the lid can be also matched by beef shanks, always an excellent speciality of the house.
Bujan is the remnant of the old-style local inn, based on great homemade foods, quality ingredients from the vicinity, very friendly prices, and an atmosphere where the owners will sit with you and with joy drink a glass of wine or rakija, although you have never met before. This is what many locals still very much cherish.
Krčma Bujan Meja 16, Praputnjak 00385 51 809 500
Some of the desserts may be done with local honey producers, in nearby Hreljin. The medieval Hreljin fort was administrative centre for residential, trade, and defence use. Since 1225, when it was first mentioned in history record, until 1790, when famous family Frankopan left the castle, Hreljin was a very important place. We cannot be totally sure if they enjoyed honey, but apiculture has long tradition here. Nowadays it is Apitrade from Hreljin that cares for this tradition.
The honey is brought here from various cooperatives, but the magic of transformation is visible in magnificent end products: honey vinegar, honey brandy, honey wine, nuts, walnuts and almonds in flower honey, dried figs and honey jam. Honey made in Apitrade are mostly Primorski (Mediterranean) honey, acacia, linden, heather, chestnut, flower, and honeydew. The sweet paradise of Hreljin travels around Croatia, as guests on various festivals, fairs, and events, but you can always order their products here:
Surrounding karstic valleys, where sea and mountains interact, are great pastureland for sheep and goats. Unfortunately, only one shepherd is left here, in Plosna. This small village next to Škrljevo, in the hinterland of Bakar, is very old. Evidences show it was inhabited by Illyrian tribes, long before Romans came to these lands.
It is here where Mr Dario Mičetić runs family homestead Plosna, and makes excellent cow and goat cheese. His animals roam freely in the valley, nurturing on the healthy and aromatic Mediterranean herbs. End product is clean and refreshing cheese, which can be obtained in the area of Kvarner.
It is thus strange that Bakar does not have stronger restaurant scene. A rather new attempt strives to make this offer better. It is the restaurant Vallis, situated on the seafront of Bakar. Refurbished and positioned on excellent spot near the sea, this restaurant bases itself on fresh ingredients bough from the local producers. The place has excellent wine list and even better brandy choice. Both meat and fish are present on the menu, with a slight orientation to modern dining, while enjoying the old pictures of Bakar on the walls. In warm months the owners open the summer terrace; it must be a great experience to sit right next to the sea and enjoy the sudden discovery of Bakar. It is truly worth of it!
Photos by: Bruno Vignjević, Vallis, OPG Plosna, Apitrade